Parents Use Deception to Influence Kids

Filed under: In The News, Weird But True, Research Reveals: Babies, Research Reveals: Toddlers & Preschoolers, Research Reveals: Big Kids

honesty sign

A new study shows that parents lie to their kids often. Credit: m-a-p, Flickr

We tell our kids that lying is flat-out wrong, but a new study shows that parents aren't afraid to fib to their children in order to influence their behavior and emotions.

Researchers Gail Heyman, Diem Luu and Kang Lee set out to examine the subject of parental lying, and according to Science Daily, the team discovered that many parents tell their kids that bad things will happen if they don't behave. In one of two studies the the team conducted, moms and dads told lies that included telling a child that if he didn't eat all his food, he would get pimples.

Other parents reported that they concocted magical creatures to influence their kids' behavior. One mother told researchers: "We told our daughter that if she wrapped up all her pacifiers like gifts, the 'paci-fairy' would come and give them to children who needed them ... I thought it was healthier to get rid of the pacifiers, and it was a way for her to feel proud and special."

A second study examined college students' recollections about their parents' lying practices and got similar results, according to Science Daily.

The bottom line? Parents frequently lie to their kids, while telling them that lying is unacceptable.

"Children sometimes behave in ways that are disruptive or are likely to harm their long-term interests," Heyman told Science Daily. "It is common for parents to try out a range of strategies, including lying, to gain compliance. When parents are juggling the demands of getting through the day, concerns about possible long-term, negative consequences to children's beliefs about honesty are not necessarily at the forefront."

Is lying always wrong, or is it OK to tell our kids lies to get them to behave?


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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.